Minor Foundation

Ropa (Ro-dpag) is the last major village in the Ropa or Gangyul valley, one of the western tributaries of the Sutlej in Upper Kinnaur. Lying at an altitude of 2950 metres, it today has a population of 572 and can be reached from the main road along the Sutlej by a 17 km link road terminating at Ropa village.

Ropa is mentioned among the 21 smaller places where Rinchen Zangpo (Rin-chen-bzang-po) is said to have founded a temple, and the older Buddhist temple at Ropa is in fact called the Translator’s Temple (Lo-tsa-ba lHa-khang) in reference to this alleged foundation by the great translator. The clay sculptures in this temple can be attributed to his time.

Translator's Temple

The shape of the inner, older part of the Translator’s Temple at Ropa can be described as a small rectangular room with an apse on the long side of the rectangle. Measuring c. 3.25 metres, the apse is wider than the rectangular hall in front of it, which is c. 5.8 metres long and c. 2.8 metres deep. The small temple has been altered considerably over the course of time. None of the original painting remains, and the clay sculptures have been subject to numerous repairs.

In the main room of the temple, the five Tathagatas sculpted in clay are seated in the apse, with two white Bodhisattvas flanking the apse and two gate-keepers to either side of the entrance (◊ Ropa Clay Sculpture Gallery). The beautiful wooden images of the Bodhisattvas Avalokiteshvara and Vajrasattva are today located on the side wall of the rectangular room while smaller wooden sculptures occupy the altar (◊ Ropa Wooden Sculpture Gallery).